June 25th, 2022

Dear Board of Directors (CSA) -

The following letter and commentary was prepared in response to an email sent on Monday June 13th  2022 by Karla Baumann RE: Subject: HV CSA BOARD MEETING – JUNE 28th 2022 at 10:00am. And in particular an attachment titled: “PROPOSED RULE CHANGES / ADDITIONS:  Effective July 1, 2022”. 

In preparation for the aforementioned meeting and in contemplation of these proposed changes and potential future issues that will effect owners / members and their rights, the undersigned HV owners / members wish to lodge their concerns and objections to the 6/28 email and its contents.

As such, we respectfully ask for review, whereupon the Board may or may not institute all or some of its “Proposed Rule Changes/Additions”, of the following:

Recently statewide there has been growing litigation and the filing of lawsuits against Association’s largely in part to the similar passing and enforcement of such rules and procedures. This presents a very real likelihood of litigation risk due to improper institution of rules, improper enforcement, fining and discrimination.

When an Association is faced with a legal challenge or litigation from its owners/members or their invitees, courts have placed a high burden of responsibility on the Board and its delegates to ensure rules / enforcements are well explained, unambiguous, and reasonable. The awarding of damages and legal fees can be substantial to an Association.

For example, some concerns in the the proposed rules include the addition of “Fines and Suspensions for CSA Rules Violations”

–    The section immediately cites “Florida Statute 720” as reference for the rule. It should be noted that FS 720, in general at Harbour Village, and as it relates to the heading in the proposed document, is not correct law. Florida Statute 718.303 would likely be the law giving the CSA the ability to implement fining. (Proper citing should be included)

–    The language and intent of the proposed rules, as written, has been found by several courts, especially resort communities to be improper and require a majority vote of members, especially in situation when its not been the apparent desire of the majority. (ie: 20 + years of no fining or suspension policy)

–    Suspending the use of common areas because a member has not paid a fine, fee or any other monetary obligation assessed by an Association within (30) days is expressly prohibited by Florida Statute.

–    The violation citing and issuing, as described in the Board proposal do not meet statutory requirements and will likely cause serious deficiencies both legally and logistically with enforcement.

–    The proposed language states: “the committee will consist of three members appointed by the Board, who meet the standards as defined by the statute” - However, it should clearly delineate that under Florida statute “...The hearing must be held before a committee of other unit owners who are neither board members nor persons  residing in a board member’s  household.” Additionally, courts have ruled that family members or spouses of a Board member are excluded from the committee. This should be disclosed.

–    There are several ambiguous or conflicting terms in other sections (ie: #10 & #11) that would likely render that section unenforceable.

Please be advised, that MANY residents believe the addition of fining to be a MAJOR overhaul to their ownership rights at Harbour Village. Additionally, there is no mention of fining or suspension (in this capacity) in the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (as filed) nor does the fining or suspension of members and their families appear to be applicable in the 20+ years this Association has existed.

Thus, it is the position of many owners / members of the CSA that implementation of fining, if done at all, should be implemented ONLY with an actual majority vote of the membership and with a properly prepared and explained set of criteria which must include a documented schedule of what  can be fined, what amount and when. The vesting in ANY Board of a broad discretion to willfully allocate fines, for various amounts, and to different members, their invitees, or tenants without proper policies and procedures will almost certainly result in litigation and accusations of discrimination, possibly before the first fine is ever implemented.

It appears that the CSA Board and a large majority of all owners/members have the same desires as it relates to creating a community that is inclusive, considerate and creates the most value for everyone. While the Board may feel the pressure to act or react to the few summer holiday weekends, it should also take into consideration the almost 50 other weekends that are enjoyed, on average, by the owners and member community.

Common sense and reasonable enforcement of the existing rules with input from owners is always the best way to ensure a more valuable experience.  Members shouldn't feel constantly monitored, discriminated against, or have to defend against new rule changes in anticipation of the Board trying to mitigate an upcoming holiday weekend.

The ideal situation would be one in which the Board, management and members can logically and reasonably deal with concerns and issues surrounding common areas. The growing number of residents who are disenchanted with communication and enforcement is reaching a concerning level and may result in a costly and unfortunate outcome for all involved.

We are all neighbors first and creating a more divisive situation is going to do more damage than good.

The following owners / members respectfully ask the Board to reconsider the promulgation of any additional policies, rules, enforcement until all parties have had a chance to properly input, review and discuss the best steps forward.


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